The 2018 NBA Trade Deadline thoroughly exceeded expectations, sending shockwaves throughout the twittersphere throughout all of Thursday… Woj Bomb by Woj Bomb. A deadline that was shaping up to be relatively quiet ended up as one of the more fascinating in recent memory, mostly due to the league’s biggest star bringing in a fresh set of Cavaliers with which to seek his eighth straight NBA finals berth. There were also, however, a slew of interesting deals across the league that are both individually important to the involved teams and collectively indicative of the new financial era into which the league is headed. Blake Griffin was the only superstar to switch teams (a week before the deadline, at that), and it didn’t seem like there was any other big fish out there to be had at any sort of reasonable price. I speculated about John Wall’s availability in light of the Wizards’ recent success without him and his injury history, yet that proved to not be in the cards. Likewise, neither Boogie (due to injury) or Anthony Davis were mentioned, nor were other “rental” candidates like a Jimmy Butler, Paul George, or Chris Paul.
So if the big names mostly stayed put, let’s take a look at and summarize the deals that were made at today’s deadline:
Pistons Receive: Jameer Nelson, 2022 2nd Round Pick (sent to Memphis about an hour later)
Bulls Receive: Willie Reed, 2022 2nd Round Pick
Thoughts: Jameer Nelson will help Detroit in whatever minutes they ask him to give. He’s just a very solid backup veteran PG who also adds toughness and character. Willie Reed is coming off a domestic violence suspension and made virtually no sense in a rotation now built around the Griffin-Drummond pairing.
Cavaliers Receive: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.
Lakers Receive: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, 2018 1st Round Pick
Thoughts: The Lakers did quite well here, shedding enough salary from this summer’s books to open up two potential Max Contract slots. Nance should help a lot in Cleveland as a bouncy energy big, something they haven’t had since early Tristan Thompson. Clarkson looks nice in the PPG column but pretty ugly everywhere else, especially on the defensive end. I can’t picture him on the floor in a Finals game against Golden State. Incredible (incredibly sad) to see just how far IT has fallen… from Tom Brady’s butt-buddy and a darling of the city of Boston to serving as trade filler and now Lonzo Ball’s sidekick.
Heat Receive: Luke Babbitt
Hawks Receive: Okaro White
Thoughts: White has played all of 80 minutes this season, and was waived by Atlanta shortly after this trade was completed. Babbitt is and always has been a contributor who played some of the best ball of his career in Miami last year before signing with Atlanta this past offseason. Can bring some kick off the bench for a Miami team that wants to compete right now.
Pistons Receive: James Ennis
Grizzlies Receive: Brice Johnson, 2022 2nd Round Pick
Thoughts: The Grizzlies sold pretty low on Ennis here, who is a really solid young 3-and-D wing who should immediately help out on Detroit’s bench. Brice Johnson is a former Consensus First Team All-American at UNC who showed out in this past Summer League but has yet to find traction in the NBA.
Cavaliers Receive: Rodney Hood, George Hill
Kings Receive: Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert, 2020 2nd Round Pick, Cash Considerations
Jazz Receive: Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose
Thoughts: Expect Joe Johnson and Derrick Rose to both make their way directly to the buyout market and join contenders. Love Rodney Hood’s talent, especially at just 2.3 Million this year with a team-friendly contract going forward. George Hill, who’s already looked washed up in Sacramento this year, is about to make $18+ Million the next three seasons — that is ugly.
Heat Receive: Dwyane Wade
Cavaliers Receive: “Heavily Protected” 2nd Round Pick
Thoughts: Good for Dwyane Wade to get the chance to return home after the stint with his best bud clearly failed to work out. The additions of Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson, along with Cedi Osman’s recent upswing, made wade somewhat expendable in Cleveland anyways. Have to think he was behind this move.
Raptors Receive: Malachi Richardson
Kings Receive: Bruno Caboclo
Thoughts: I’m still hanging out on Malachi Island as he’s been one of my favorite hoopers going back to his Cuse days. Interesting move here where both teams are offering a second chance to the other’s failed developmental project.
Knicks Receive: Emmanuel Mudiay
Nuggets Receive: Devin Harris, 2018 2nd Round Pick
Mavericks Receive: Doug McDermott
Thoughts: Mudiay is still just 21 years old and less than 3 years removed from, as most will forget, being Knicks fans’ preferred draft choice over Porzingis in that draft.
It will be fascinating to see how this trade affects the development of Knicks lottery pick Frank Ntilikina, who has shown special flashes this season but has struggled with the rookie wall. The club seems convinced that Frank and Mudiay can share the backcourt in contemparaneous minutes. The Nuggets were pretty out on Mudiay anyways and, in Devin Harris, they pick up a reliable veteran who can run some offense with their second unit. The Mavericks should be excited about getting an extended look at Dougie McBuckets headed into his restricted free agency.
Bulls Receive: Noah Vonleh, Cash Considerations
Blazers Receive: Milocan Rakovic
Thoughts: Good for Portland to both get under the luxury tax by moving Vonleh and open up a $3.5 Million Traded Player Exception. Vonleh is still just 22 years old and has shown off a modern NBA big man game at times in his career. Perhaps more minutes await him on a rebuilding Bulls team.
Nets Receive: Dante Cunningham
Pelicans Receive: Rashad Vaughn
Thoughts: Cunningham can eat up minutes on a Brooklyn team that’s been bit badly by the injury bug. Vaughn hasn’t shown much in his career but is just 21 years old and may be given a chance to crack a lackluster wing rotation in New Orleans.
Hawks Receive: Sheldon Mac, Cash Considerations
Wizards Receive: Protected 2019 2nd Round Pick
Thoughts: Mac has already been waived by Atlanta. The move frees up a roster spot and some financial flexibility for Washington, potentially to be leveraged in the buyout market.
Suns Receive: Elfrid Payton
Magic Receive: 2018 2nd Round Pick
Thoughts: Fantastic buy-low opportunity here for Phoenix, as Orlando has clearly given up on Payton’s development and wasn’t planning to pay him this summer. He is an abomination defensively, which will fit right in with a Phoenix team that is also awful on that end. I still think Phoenix wants Devin Booker to be its point guard of the future in a James Harden-type mold, but this is a perfectly meager price to bring in a 23-year old former lottery pick.